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Keynote Lecture
Reasonable Accommodations in Higher Education

Jim Marks
Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and Director, Disability Student Services (DSS), University of Montana

Ohayo gozaimasu. Thank you for this opportunity to speak at this international symposium. I am very honored to do so. I’ve learned many things in my role as the Director of Disability Services at the University of Montana, a position I’ve held now for a little over 20 years (it hardly seems possible).

I’ve learned a lot from the students that I serve. One example of this is that I met a young man one time who is a wheelchair user. He is from a small town in Montana. He was in the hallway outside my office looking at an automatic door opener that a person would hit and the door would open up for people with disabilities to pass through the door. This particular door opener was of an advanced design that had, instead of a small button, a large button much like a small dinner plate. You could hit it with an elbow, a shoulder, a head or a hand and be able to operate the door independently. As he was looking at it I asked him, “What are you doing?” He said, “You know, where I’m from I’ve had to work very hard to achieve accessibility. Everything was a fight.” He said, “Here at the University of Montana I can tell that there have been others who came before me, that I’m not the first one. I’d like to do my part to build even a better world so that those who come behind me can find even greater accessibility.” I think that is the purpose of today’s symposium and the events going on, that we are trying to build a better world.

In doing a little research before coming to Japan (this is my first trip), I learned a few things. One of them is that Japan and the state of Montana are approximately the same size geographically but there’s quite a big difference in that in Japan there are 127 million people and in Montana there are less than a million (about 900,000 people) but probably 127 million cows. I also noticed there are similarities. My wife was reading to me from the English version of the Japanese Times this morning. She read a haiku to me. I’ll recite it and see if I can do justice to it. It said, “Income tax forms filled out, hope and savings gone.” That’s universal if anything is. That’s life everywhere.

Today I’m going to be talking about my personal experiences with disability and the history of the University of Montana Disability Services. My colleague, Mika Watanabe-san, will be following up with more details on some of the services. At the end, I will very much welcome questions so that I can answer about things that you may have a particular interest in. I’m also going to be talking about the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) so that we can talk about maybe the role that AHEAD can play in developing a more accessible global world.

I am blind. I was not blind all of my life. The first time that I knew that there was something wrong with my vision was when I was 18 years old. I noticed that at nighttime I could not see as well, mostly when I was driving. I would miss things that others would see and so I went to look at medically what was happening. It turned out that I have an eye disease called “retinitis pigmentosa.” I am the oldest of nine children. Two of my siblings also have the disease. The rest see normally. I am the oldest. I grew up on a Montana ranch. I am a sixth generation Montana rancher from a Montana ranching family so when I talk about the 127 million cows, I know what I’m talking about. There are definitely lots of cows in Montana.

I became legally blind at age 25 while I was in college. The adjustment to blindness was not easy. Most of us look on disability as a tragedy, as something that happens to us that’s bad. But I’ve learned over the years to adjust the way I think about blindness, the way I think about disability. I’ve realized that it’s a matter of perception, a matter of belief. If one truly believes that people with disabilities have a role to play in this world, that we can participate on equal footing with our peers without disabilities, then that will happen. You must believe first and then the reality of integration and inclusion, participation and equal access to benefits will occur.

My adjustment, like I said, was not easy. I often now talk about the adjustment to disability using a Canadian feminist writer named Margaret Atwood. She’s written books such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Blind Assassin,” but she also writes non-fiction books. She talked about the four stages of dealing with victimization or oppression that women often go through. I think it applies equally well to people with disabilities. She came up with four stages of adjustment.

The first stage is shame, where you feel less than whole and you do things like you try to hide the disability or you try to deny it. You feel embarrassment or inadequacies because you happen to have a disability. The second stage is manipulation where you use the disability to manipulate others. “Would you mind going and getting my lunch for me?” or “I may be blind but at least I’m not head injured.” The third stage is anger. Anger happens when you start to believe in yourself but others don’t and you feel excluded or shut out from life. Anger can be a very positive force if it’s channeled correctly but it can be a very destructive force if left to stew or to simmer. Anger needs to be channeled. Then the fourth stage is the reframing of disability, the redefinition of what it means to have a disability so that disability becomes something ordinary and respectful. It becomes a characteristic, like having in my case graying hair and size 13 feet American. Blindness is a part of me. It’s not all of me. I’m OK with it. It is neither good nor bad. It just is and you learn how to deal with it and live as full a life as you choose to live. The adjustment time takes a while but the really key thing is to recognize that it’s a question of belief, a question of perception.

The Office of Disability Services was created I believe in about 1978. That’s when I was in college. In the United States, a law had been passed in 1973 called section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It was a part of a larger act. It simply said that if you take federal funding from the United States government then you must make sure that you do not discriminate solely on the basis of disability. You had to provide reasonable modifications and changes that allow people with disabilities to participate in federally funded programs.
After the law was passed, no regulations were written. The law essentially languished for 5 years until approximately 1978 when several groups of people with disabilities organized and formed protests. They took over federal buildings. Perhaps the best well-known was the takeover of the federal building in San Francisco. At the time, the president of the Untied States was Jimmy Carter. This group of people with disabilities said, “Please, let’s write the regulations. Let’s make the law something that is developed and wrapped into programs all throughout the United States.”

They were successful. The Carter administration listened. Regulations were quickly written. At that time, many disabilities services offices in higher education sprung up across the country. There had been a few beforehand. For example, at the University of California in Berkley there was a program there already. I’ll be talking more about that later on. There were others, such as at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois that was designed for veterans of foreign wars and rehabilitation services. There had been some programs in colleges and universities in the United States but they were very few in number. In 1978, it became almost overnight something that was more common.

At the University of Montana the first person to become an officer for students with disabilities, her title was “the handicap student advisor.” She worked part-time in that position and then the other part of her time was spent as the advisor of foreign students to the University of Montana. It remained that way for quite some time, for several years. In 1988 when I first came to the university, the office had formed its own office. It became a separate, autonomous entity under the division of Student Affairs. So there was actually a full office, not just a staff member who was assigned the duty of working with students with disabilities. Interestingly enough, the person who was in the position when I came in was Mr. George Kerscher, who was working on an interim basis. Essentially, George preceded me. He helped hire me, I believe. He was on the hiring committee. That’s another one of the places where George’s influence affected quite a lot, I think. The University of Montana Disabilities Services Office, then, was born in 1988.

Another small slice of national history that had occurred (and actually also another Japanese connection) was that President Ronald Reagan famously targeted government regulations as something that was bad. He wanted small government. He wanted less government. He specifically targeted section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for dismantling. He assembled a group of leaders. Among them were people with disabilities. One was a man named Justin Dart. Justin was the owner of the Tupperware fortune. He had been active in Japan in the 1960’s and ‘70s with Tupperware services. Mika-san was telling me that Tupperware parties were very common. It was a place where Japanese women could find work and progressive employment opportunities within Tupperware here in Japan. Justin’s wife is Japanese, also.
Justin was a part of this conservative group of leaders with disabilities that President Reagan assigned to look at change in the disability regulations. They took a look at those regulations and they decided this section 504 is a pretty good thing, this protection for people with disabilities from discrimination based solely on disability. We should take this and extend it to the private sector so that any business, any place of public accommodation, would not discriminate on the basis of disability. And so the Americans with Disabilities Act was born. I love the irony that the United States government set out to tear down disability rights and instead built them up. That leadership came from Justin Dart.

In 1990 the United States adopted the Americans with Disabilities Act, which essentially did what section 504 had done but extended it to the private sector as well as the public sector. It cemented in the culture of the United States the notion that it’s not OK to discriminate on the basis of disability. Right as I was coming into the job, it was a very magical time in the United States. People with disabilities were being looked at in new ways. We were beginning to think about disability in new ways.
When I got into the job, the very first day I heard a knock on my door. I’d been looking at my room. It wasn’t much of a room, as George might recall. It was a converted dormitory. It had no computer. There was a file cabinet that had some files in the drawer but not much at all. There were poster paints in the closet and it was dark and dreary. There wasn’t much at all. I remember standing in the middle of the room thinking, “Oh no! Why did I take this job?” Then there was a knock at the door.
There was a young man there, a very large and very angry young man who said to me, “I had been promised access to talking books. I have a learning disability and I cannot read print well enough to keep up. I need to have talking books so that I can listen and read this print at the same time and be able to learn on equal footing with my peers, but I’m standing here with my textbooks and no access to them.” So we sat down and we talked. I said, “You know, it’s going to take us a while to figure this out. We need to work together to build accessibility into what we’re doing.”

It took us a couple of years, but we did it. We tried different things. We used books from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. At that time it was just “Recording for the Blind” but it did serve people with dyslexia as well then. We used volunteers and we used technology, some very early scan and read programming to try to cobble together several tools in the toolbox for this student to be able to learn on equal footing with his peers. He managed to do it. He graduated and I lost touch with him for a while. Several years went by, approximately 10 years. Again, there was a knock at my door. I opened up the door and here was that young man again. This time he was wearing a suit and tie and he looked like he had been quite successful, like he was doing quite well. I invited him in, sat down and said, “What brings you to campus today?” because he had graduated and had been gone and been working in the world for a while. He said, “I’m here to attend a career fair for teachers at the university.” Each year the University of Montana puts on a career fair where school districts come in and hire our latest graduates to work in the schools throughout the country and he was there to participate in that.
My immediate reaction was, “Oh, so you’re looking for a job.” He said, “No. I’m a superintendent of schools. I’m here to hire people.” I knew when I heard that that we had been successful, that we had achieved something. I really felt good about the work that I was doing. This person had made things happen for himself. My role was simply to assist him with the tools that it would take for him to achieve his success. I made sure that he had an equal opportunity. The success was his but it was made possible through the availability of alternatives to print.

Many things happened that made changes. When I first took over the office, it was a half-time position. I had a staff member who was a student staff who worked about 3 hours per week. There really wasn’t much there. We served 120 students with disabilities out of a student body of around 8,000 students or so. There wasn’t much I could do except that I knew that we really needed advocacy to cause change to happen.
The first thing I did was I talked to the student newspaper. In the United States if you want things to happen one of the best ways to do it is to talk with the media. Everybody loves a good controversy. Everybody loves a good story, so I helped by feeding information to our local student media a bit. The first thing that I said is that the lack of accessibility at the University of Montana is not due to money, because that’s usually what is said. We deny the possibilities because of shortages in funding and budgets. I said that it really isn’t money. What it’s really about is priority. If we believe in something as a community, as a university, as individuals, we find a way to pay for what’s important to us. What we have to do is we have to make accessibility important.

I said that and another student came in after he read the article. He said, “Wow! Do you really believe that?” I said, “Yes,” and so we formed a student group, an advocacy group called “The Alliance for Disability and Students of the University of Montana.” It’s kind of an odd name. We chose it because it was close to the student government name at the University of Montana, which is “The Associated Students of the University of Montana.” That governs student funding and such at the university. We didn’t know at the time that the acronym ADSUM also means “ad sum” in Latin, which stands for “I am here.” It’s kind of a bit of serendipity that the name of the organization says “I am here” in Latin. It was told to us by a classics professor who came by and said, “Did you know what you guys did?” We were very happy when we heard but we didn’t do it on purpose.
The ADSUM immediately started doing several different kinds of advocacy. It isn’t all just lawsuits and administrative grievances, although that’s one of the things that we started with first. The student group organized a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. That organization, the Office for Civil Rights, came to the university and they investigated whether the University of Montana was discriminating against students with disabilities. There were five named students in the complaint. Three of them were wheelchair users and two were deaf.

When the investigators came to the university, they found massive violations. They found a lot of problems with barriers where students with disabilities were being excluded or limited in their participation because of those barriers. The way the system works is that the Office for Civil Rights reaches some findings of barriers and then it says to the university, “Do you believe that these are barriers that are shutting out students with disabilities and, if so, what are you going to do about them?” The University of Montana said, “Yes, we acknowledge that we are not doing as well with students with disabilities and equal access as we should.” So we came up with a plan that improved the services. My office grew from just my half-time position and the part-time student employee to my becoming full-time and getting a half-time professional secretary.
But ADSUM wasn’t done. They did other kinds of things. One of the things they did is they brought in the head of our legislature’s House Appropriations Committee, a man named Francis Bardinow. Francis was elderly. He was in his early 80’s. He had been in the Montana legislature for over 30 years. We brought him into my office and we had several students with disabilities sit down to talk to him about the problems that students with disabilities face at the University of Montana. We went around the room. We had people in wheelchairs telling their story. We had deaf people. We had blind people. One of those students in the room was the same young man whom I told you about who became the superintendent of schools.

In Montana, the farmers and ranchers are not known for subtleties. They oftentimes just come right out and say what they’re thinking. This politician looked at this young man, who was very handsome, very strong, very fit, very able and said, “I can see what’s wrong with the rest of these people but what’s wrong with you?” I thought, “Oh boy, here we go. The student’s going to get angry. He’s going to say something that he shouldn’t.” But he didn’t. He said, “Well, I have a learning disability.” He went through the same spiel. “I need talking books to be able to read on equal footing with my peers.”
That legislator sat back in his chair. He got very quiet. He said, “You know, I only have an eighth grade education.” He never went to high school. He said, “I’m pretty sure that I have a learning disability, too, because I have a hard time reading.” Then nothing more was said. Then a few months later, at the close of the legislative session, he made an adjustment to the funding at the last minute in the appropriations bill and he funded my office extensively with money from the Montana legislature. It happened so quietly and so late that the university lobbyist had gone home. She thought everything was done. All of a sudden, this man came in at the last minute and provided funding for disabilities services at the University of Montana. So at that time, it grew even more. We hired a learning disability specialist and a deaf/hard of hearing specialist. I want to pause for just a minute and talk about the structure of disability service offices a bit. At that time, I was following the model that was used across the country where in higher education you would employ people who were experts in certain disability categories, like a learning disability specialist or a deaf/hard of hearing specialist. We put that together and it was good for a while but what happened is that the better we got at serving students with disabilities, the better the accessibility to the university as a group became, the more people would show up. You bring down the barriers and more people can participate.

It isn’t a question of the chicken or the egg. Where there are barriers, people with disabilities are going to experience denials or limitation of equal access. You bring those barriers down and people can show up. What we were experiencing is that the better we got at the barrier removal, the greater the workload because there would be more and more people. Soon instead of just having 25 or 30 students with learning disabilities we were looking at 300 or 400 students with learning disabilities. It became too much for one person to do.
My office had for a long time been questioning whether the notion that we should have services built on the pathology of disability was a good idea, whether we should do something different. So we changed our model so that we no longer had specialists. We have generalist coordinators who serve students of all disability types. We distribute the workload based on the-we call them “coordinators.” We assign certain majors to the coordinator. For example, one person is responsible for the school of education and the school of business. All students who are thinking about going into education or business would be assigned to that coordinator regardless of the student’s disabling condition. Each coordinator might serve a bunch of students with learning disabilities, some students with psychiatric disabilities, some students who are deaf, some students who are blind and some students with orthopedic disabilities. It would be a mixture. The commonality would be that they would be in a particular major.

The beauty of the new model, the model that we have now, is that the first question that we ask students is, “What’s your major? What are you going to be studying?” That’s a much, much different question than asking, “What’s your disability?” We found that when we focused in on the accessible learning environment and not so much on the pathology of disability that it sent a message about what we were doing and what was important. It’s a model of service delivery that is pretty unique. I don’t know of another university anywhere that’s doing it with the success that we are but it is happening and it’s a method that works quite well.
The students that we serve, I probably should tell you a little bit about what the office looks like today so that you can have a sense of it. I am the director. My boss is the Vice President for Student Affairs, who is supervised by the President of the university. So it’s actually a very nice thing. I’m only one person away from the person who makes the decisions on our campus. In the office we have four coordinators. Mika-san is one of those coordinators. There are three others who work with students with disabilities based on their major or their academic interest. We also have clerical support. We have a receptionist. We have an office manager. We have five sign language interpreters. We have a person who converts books into electronic texts. We haven’t quite started with DAISY but we’re awfully close. We’re looking forward to implementing DAISY in the books that we convert for students locally. We would do about 250 books a year and we’re right at the point now where we’re going to be using DAISY books. Up to now we’ve just been using Microsoft Word or RTF books. Mika will explain that more later.

We also have about 20 to 30 student employees and then some 60 to 80 volunteers or so who mostly work as note-takers for students in their classrooms. The office serves 1,000 students with disabilities. The University of Montana student body is now 14,000 students. It’s regarded as a medium-sized university, so a pretty good size. We do have everything from college of technology programs where we teach people how to drive heavy equipment up to doctoral programs where we teach things in biology and all kinds of different sorts of educational programs.
1,000 students with disabilities is a large number. It is over 7% of the student body. That’s higher than what you usually see in university campuses across the United States. Usually instead of about 7% of the student body being made up of students with disabilities it’s usually around 3%. We have more than usual. I think one of the reasons for that is that the University of Montana and Missoula is the kind of place where it’s OK to have a disability. You can have a disability and be regarded as a full citizen and full participant.

The budget for the office is about $750,000 a year. With so many students being served in higher education today in the United States, every student means better funding for the university. They tell me that it only takes retaining 3 students to pay for a single staff position at the university, so when we do a good job of accommodating students with disabilities we are also doing a good job for the University of Montana and making money for the University of Montana. Although we have to spend quite a bit of money to accommodate students with disabilities, we reap many, many benefits in return for that. It’s a superb investment.
I want talk more about the Association of Higher Education and Disability but if I may, could I stop now and ask if there are any questions about the University of Montana and Disability Services?

Chair: OK. It’s up to you. If you’d like to ask for questions right now, you can do that.

Marks: OK.

Chair: Then we’d like to entertain some questions, if you have any questions. Anybody? Will you please wait for a microphone before you start asking questions? Raise your hand. First will you tell us your name and also if it’s OK your affiliation.

Floor: Thank you very much for your presentation. My name is Chiba. I’m from the Nippon Foundation. I’m responsible for support for people with disabilities in developing countries in Asia. A part of our job is to establish disability support offices in some of the Asian countries, but still the scale of our work is small. We hope to grow into the future. One of the things that we face today is something to do with the staff members at the universities, including the presidents of universities. In terms of accepting people with disabilities, their awareness needs to be improved. I think this is a part of our challenge into the future. The number of students with disabilities is still small and therefore the universities think that it’s sort of a charity, a social contribution, to accept people with disabilities. We have to change that mindset so that people have better understanding. In your experience, can you tell me how did you change this kind of attitude toward students with disabilities at the University of Montana?

Marks: Thank you for that question. I’m very happy that you asked that question. The first thing that I would say is that the job is never done. We are constantly in the role of trying to convince others on the university campus of the value of equal access and the value of full participation by people with disabilities, so we struggle with that. It is something that is actually discussed a lot throughout the United States. There are two models of disabilities service programs. At last year’s conference at the Association of Higher Education and Disability we talked about the two models. One is social welfare and the other is social justice. Social welfare is a model in which disability is regarded as philanthropy, where people with disabilities are looked at as the objects of good works. It’s not necessarily a bad thing except that people with disabilities want to be more than that. We want to be equals. We want to be contributors and first-class citizens.
The model that we’re trying to move towards is one of social justice in which we look at equal access and equal rights and try to focus on matters of justice and equality. We often have to convince others. For example, at the University of Montana we have a department called “Modern and Classic Literatures and Languages.” There are departments within that. One of them was the department for the Japanese language. We had a student with a disability, a young woman with cerebral palsy. She doesn’t use a wheelchair but she uses a walker. She does not have control of her hands. Fine motor skills are difficult. One of the requirements of the program is that she had to write Japanese letters by hand but she can’t write her native language by hand due to the disability. We struggled with the department in terms of whether allowing her to use technology was a fundamental alteration of the academic standard or not. There’s constantly give and take in this. I think the secret in achieving the kind of change that many of us would like to see is that we must be relentless. We must always stay on task and keep pushing. We need to be talking about our successes and pointing to the benefits of inclusion and basically trying to convince the world through education and reason and all of the good spirits behind equal access that we can make a better world, but it’s a full-time job and I’m happy to be in the career.

Chair: Thank you very much. Next question. Please wait for the microphone. Monthian -san?

Monthian: Thank you very much. Congratulations, Jim. It’s a good presentation and also a good achievement. I’d like to ask how you view yourself as a DSS. Is it more like a broker to coordinate services or does it focus on direct services to students with disabilities? I know the Rehab Act provides a variety of services that individuals could just grab him or herself outside the university. I noticed when I was in the United States that there was a fight going on between relying on DSS as a direct service provider or that DSS could help coordinate services. What are the pros and cons of being service management or providing service directly or to coordinate services? Thank you.

Marks: Thank you. That’s a terrific question. When a person has a disability, you face two options. One is to basically fix yourself; to change the way you think about disability, to change your skill level, to change your tools to be able to participate. The other method is to change your environment, where you take away barriers in the environment and work on accessibility. Most of us blend the two. Sometimes we take on personal responsibilities to be able to live in this world and sometimes we insist on equal access in the environment.

A disabilities service office is about the accessible environment. The danger that many disabilities service offices run into is that we often try to answer every disability issue with environmental changes. Sometimes that’s not the right way to go. Sometimes people with disabilities have to find those resources within themselves to make things happen.
What I believe in and what many people believe in is a partnership between rehabilitation and disability service offices. Good rehabilitation can teach people how to function. It can teach people how to do the note-taking, how to use the technology, how to get from one place to another, how to access resources, that sort of thing. Then when a student comes to the University of Montana or an institute of higher education, they are prepared to take on the challenges there with the expectation that there will be no discrimination in the environment, that those barriers that would tend to either deny or limit access would be removed or dealt with. So there’s a combination of rehab and equal access that renders the best benefit to people with disabilities.

I personally believe that sometimes we focus too much on accessibility. By that what I mean is that I could be in the most accessible environment there is and I would still be blind. I still have to figure out how to do things the way that blind people do. It’s the same for people with other disabilities oftentimes, too. Really inherent to the greatest success and the greatest chance for first-class citizenship by people with disabilities is a blend of equal access and personal responsibilities.
In my office we focus heavily on self-determination where students with disabilities make choices. The role of a disability services officer is not to call all of the shots. We are there to serve as facilitators, to piece together different elements of accessibility and the tools that people use to be able to study. We work as facilitators. We try to deliver services that put the locus of control in the hands of students with disabilities. There’s a friend of mine who works at the University of Michigan as a disabilities services director. He talked about two students with disabilities that he served. Both were very smart, very able people. One used disabilities services extremely heavily. He was always asking for services from the University of Michigan disability program. The other hardly ever used the services at all. My friend tracked those students after graduation. The one who hardly used the office at all was well on his way to a career. He was quickly rising up through the ranks. He was a respected colleague, a very able sort of person. The other student (who did really, really well academically; he got great grades and was smart and able) was not finding work. He was having difficulty trying to find and hold onto jobs. I think that higher education has to think about the big picture. We do not want to create dependencies in the people we serve. We want to liberate them. To do that, we need to understand disability in the broadest possible context. We need to shift that control to the people that we serve and away from us. Thank you for that question.

Chair: Maybe we can entertain just one more question. Two people are raising their hands, so we can take two questions. The person in the front first.

Floor: My name is Yasuda. I’d like to thank you very much for your wonderful presentation. I am a university student at Japan Social Welfare. I have two questions in terms of support. You said you changed the focus from the type of disability to the environment. You said you saw an increased number of people with disabilities and also you talked about the change of models. I think in changing the models you must have had discussions. Would you share with us what sorts of discussions took place when you were trying to change the model from the social welfare to the social justice one?

Marks: That’s a great question. In order to look at the change, I think that the kinds of discussions that we have to have-to move from a social welfare to a social justice model really requires a shift in the way that we think about disability. That is a matter of enlightenment and opening up minds to possibilities that might not have been there. I think it’s a difficult change. I think that a lot of people are heavily vested in service to people with disabilities and it’s a good thing.

People with disabilities are interdependent with others in this world. We lean on one another. All of us do. When we sit down to a meal many, many hands helped us be able to take part in that meal, from the farmers to the transportation people to the quality control inspectors to the packaging to the cooks who developed the recipes. None of us are an island. We all lean on one another. For people with disabilities leaving the social welfare model can be difficult because you really have to open up your mind about what it means to have a disability. That’s a hard thing. It’s not an easy transition.
On the other hand, a social justice model I think appeals to all of us. I think that whether you have a disability or not, you want that self-determination. You want to have that choice. A social justice model says that you want to be successful. You want to do certain things with your life. That’s great. Give it a try. You may succeed or you may not but we’re going to work together to make sure that that success or failure is not limited or denied because of disability barriers in the environment or the lack of services that can support you. A social justice model I think appeals to something very deep inside us that is almost like a universal truth. While the transition may not be easy, I think it’s an important transition to make. Thank you for the question.

Chair: Last but not least, the last questioner. Please wait for the microphone.

Floor: I am from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Thank you very much for your precious lecture. In Japan one of the reasons why we’re not seeing headway in inclusion is because the schoolteachers do not know how to cope with these needs. Listening to your talk, it seems that you are providing a great deal of support to the students but do you support the faculty who teach the students, as well?

Marks: Thank you for that question. Yes, we do support the faculty, the teachers, as well. Interestingly enough, I really see the role of the Disability Service Office as not to be an absolute advocate for people with disabilities. Rather, I think we’re an advocate for justice or equal access. That means it plays a role with everyone, not just the students with disabilities. It also is the faculty and it also is the community that the university serves. Faculty members need to know that it’s OK to hold high expectations, that they will not have to interfere with academic freedoms and that they can hold students accountable to the performance standards that are out there. We do a lot of work with faculty members in supporting their assertion of those faculty rights just in the same way that we do students with disabilities and the assertion of their rights. There is a great deal of give and take. We tell faculty three things. We tell them that they must accommodate. They must allow changes or modifications in the way students participate in their classes because that is a matter of the law and that’s a matter of justice. We also tell them that everything is negotiable. They can find modifications or accommodations that fit with the academic standard and expectation but change things that don’t matter so that the students with disabilities can do the things that do matter. The third thing that we tell faculty is that the Disability Service Office is a resource or a tool for them.

At the University of Montana it’s common for class sizes on occasion to be in the neighborhood of about 500 students. In a class of 500 students it’s easily possible to have 15 students with disabilities, each of whom may want testing modifications. The faculty members look at that and they go, “Uh-oh. That’s a lot of work. I’m going to need some help because I can’t do this on my own. I don’t have time enough to watch over these students as they take tests with extended time or with special technologies or with assistance. Would the Disabilities Service Office please back me up?” We’re in partnership with faculty. We’re in partnership with the mission of the university. We are a part of the education infrastructure. We’re not just disability-centric. We’re really justice-centric. Thank you for that question.